Interlink Cloud Blog


Matt Scherocman

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

The Struggle is Real: How to Deal with the Growth and Sophistication of Cybercrime with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

As business changes and technology evolves, the majority of organizations depend on IT systems to store their data and run critical workflows. Unfortunately, these systems can be a prime target for cyber-attacks as sophisticated hackers put the enterprise in a vulnerable position. Just take note of these especially stunning stats:

  • 76% of attacks stem from compromised user credentials
  • The average cost of a data breach to a company is $3.5 million and total cost of cybercrime on a global scale is as high as $500 billion
  • Because of dangerous IT security blind spots (shown in the image below), it could take over 200 days to detect an attack

    IT blind spots Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

Stats courtesy of Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics Datasheet.

The reality is, businesses need to pay attention and adapt to this changing nature of data security threats.

Now available in the Enterprise Mobility Suite, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) helps to protect your company from attacks by leveraging machine learning. It uses behavioral analytics to uncover suspicious behavior, internally or from external attacks. It also detects known security issues and risks , the goal is to stay  one (or two, or three) steps ahead of the attackers.

Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

When you think of security software, your mind might immediately turn to configuring system rules and alerting. All of which take time and commitment from your team. With ATA, you don’t need to create rules, baselines, or thresholds. It’s streamlined from setup and works immediately. Once a threat is detected, it’s also easy to view a timeline of when the attack hit. It can help pinpoint where the breach took place. All of this insight can better prepare you for future attacks.

The thought of being hacked and not even knowing it is scary enough, but ATA also helps identify internal threats like why a user would be accessing files in accounting if they’re in the marketing department? Combined with online security reports, ATA can show anomalies for logins.  It will help detect when user credentials have been compromised by reporting geographically distant logins that occur at the time time – like a single user being logged in from Ohio and from Romania at the same time.  

The high-level benefits of using ATA at your business are obvious. Peace of mind goes a long way, and you also want it to help you adapt as cyber-attacks grow in frequency and sophistication. The features of ATA are even more appealing when you see exactly how it works for your business. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Timeline: We’ve already mentioned that timeline, but it’s worth noting again. In addition to listing the activities as they occur, ATA provides recommendations on how to handle that alert.
  • Organizational Security Graph: This maps out entity interactions which represents the context and activities of the users, devices, and resources. This will be a big driver in managing security for each of your users.
  • Email Alerts: There’s no need for one person to be continuously monitoring for cyber-attacks. With ATA, you can have emails sent to users or groups when suspicious activity is detected.
  • Leveraging the Cloud:  Microsoft cloud based correlation engine helps more quickly identify new attacks and reduce the amount of false positives. 

The cyber-attack threat is real and ATA can help you adapt to the changing cyber-attack world we live in.

Contact Interlink if you any questions.


Matt Scherocman

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server in the Public Cloud: SQL Database vs. SQL Server on Azure VMs

When it comes to hosting SQL Server in the public cloud, there are two major options. 

  1. SQL Database
  2. SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (VMs)

Customers can choose just one or both, as each is designed for different SQL workloads and fit into Microsoft’s platform a different way.

In order to choose the right route for your application workload, you’ll want to match your business requirements with the benefits and capabilities of these two options. But first, know that if you choose a cloud path, you don’t have to be all in the cloud. Same goes for an on-premises direction. A hybrid cloud option, which means having part of your data centers in the cloud while keeping a select workloads on-premises, is what most businesses choose and what Microsoft’s cloud platform is built for.

The diagram below, courtesy of Microsoft Azure, shows the relation of cloud options to the level of administration you have over the infrastructure and the degree of cost efficiency:

SQL Server in the Public Cloud

The public cloud options (represented in blue) are outlined below, starting with…

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

SQL Database is hosted, and maintained by Microsoft. This Azure cloud platform is categorized as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) and offers a few desirable features to help companies scale efficiently. First of which is cost flexibility. Users pay as they go, scaling up or down for more power and little interruption. You can also develop directly on the service using Azure's built-in features and functionality.

#1 Benefit: Lowered Overall Cost and Administration

In addition to lowering the overall cost of running multiple databases, SQL Database reduces ongoing administration costs because you don’t need a full IT team to manage any virtual machines, operating systems, or database software.

How to Purchase

SQL Database is sold as a service, not with a license. In order to limit your cost exposure, clients will need to manage and monitor what is in use along with what can be scaled back to reduce subscription fees.


With SQL Database, you can continue to administer your database, but Microsoft takes care of the underlying hardware, can replicate data to provide high availability, configures and upgrades the database software, manages load balancing, and does transparent failover if there is a server failure. Ultimately, taking away the time-consuming administration duties.

SQL Server on Azure VMs

SQL Server on Azure VMs allows you to run SQL Server inside a virtual machine in the cloud. This falls under the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) category and is meant to extend on premise SQL Server applications to the cloud.

#1 Benefit: Customizability

If you already have a full-time IT staff and need administrative rights, yet desire a fully customizable setup, SQL Server on Azure VMs is optimized exactly for your scenario.

How to Purchase

Traditional SQL Server licensing is available for SQL Server on Azure VMs. Customers with current software assurance have the ability to run use that license to cover their instances of SQL within Azure. If there is a workload running full time, it is typically less expensive to purchase the SQL than to subscribe to it in scenario 1. 


SQL Server on Azure VMs makes it possible to keep control over database location down to the location of the disk. You can upgrade on your own schedule.

When deciding what public cloud option is right for you, assess your situation first and determine which workloads fit which cloud scenarios best.  Keep in mind that you may want to reuse licensing that may already be used to run the same workload on premises. 

Whatever your situation, Interlink can help you determine the best fit and then take the right next steps from there. Contact Interlink.

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Sarah Bunt

[On-Demand Webinar] Microsoft Azure Disaster Recovery Scenarios - with Demo

[On-Demand Webinar] Microsoft Azure Disaster Recovery Scenarios - with Demo

Ensure your critical business data is never lost and always safe.

An entirely new breed of threats has emerged that can to knock out your business applications and data.

Join Microsoft and Microsoft Heartland Area Partner of the Year - Interlink Cloud Advisors for an exclusive on-demand webinar that demonstrates how Azure Site Recovery - a hybrid solution for disaster recovery - protects and maintains all your applications and data, without having to maintain a secondary data center.  

view Azure Disaster Recovery Scenarios

Designed for all business and IT professionals, this session walks you through the Azure Site Recovery solution includes a product overview and live demo.

This webinar covers some of the most common workload scenarios and questions, including:

  • Overview of Disaster Recovery solutions
  • Prioritizing workloads for failover
  • Building plans to encompass all types of disasters
  • Pricing options
  • Funding available from Microsoft

Plus, you’ll hear a ton of questions that were asked from our audience during the live event.

View this on-demand event now to hear best practices and insights into using the cloud as your disaster recovery tool.


mike wilson

Mike Wilson
V. President | Managing Consultant
Microsoft VTSP and Top Microsoft Cloud Certified

Mark Rackley

Changes to SharePoint Online Document Libraries & What They Mean

Changes to SharePoint Online Document Libraries & What They Mean

If you are on an Office 365 first release tenant you may have noticed a new option when you logged into your environment this past Friday morning when going to view your Document Libraries.

What’s this? New stuff? Cool! Let’s click on it and see what happens?

SharePoint Online Document Libraries 2

Woah! What have they done? Not only is the cheese moved, but they replaced my smooth buttery Havarti with some pungent foot smelling stuff!

Needless to say, my first reaction was not one of joy and the immediate response from many people out there was similar to mine. At first look it could be said that this is the most drastic change made to the UI in SharePoint in a very long time. Menus are moved (missing), options are different (or missing), and my branding did not carry over. It looks much more like OneDrive than SharePoint. It’s easy to see why the first reaction would not be positive to someone who lives and breathes SharePoint every day.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the things that I saw missing in this new experience:

  • Left navigation changed (and no obvious way to edit it).
  • My global navigation is gone
  • My Theme is no longer applied
  • My branding did not carry over
  • It’s not possible to edit the page (cannot add web parts like we did in the past).
  • Managed Meta Data Navigation gone.
  • Display forms are gone. (Display forms, NOT Edit forms).

But we do get a nice preview panel with some helpful information by clicking on the “…” for an item and selection “Details.”

SharePoint Online Document Libraries 3

There are other things changed as well. But as you can see at first glance there’s a LOT missing. How do we do what we used to do? There’s a good thread on Yammer with people discussing their frustrations as well as other thoughts on the new experience.

Luckily you can easily switch back to “Classic Mode” to go back to the way things were before by scrolling down the left navigation and clicking “Return to Classic SharePoint” link.

SharePoint Online Document Libraries 4

Okay… things are back to normal. Deep breath.

What does it mean to you?

What do these changes mean for you? The user, the admin, the developer? At first glance, here are the major effects for this change as it stands today:

Handling the Fear of Change

I’d gather most people will not react fondly to these changes. I get it. You get comfortable with something and someone moves it. There’s that immediate drop in productivity as people learn new functionality. It will be important to properly announce these changes within your organization when they are rolled out. Just communicate well, talk in calm soothing tones and don’t make any sudden movements. But seriously, just educate people. These new views are not all bad, they are just really different. In fact, they are now much more mobile friendly and responsive.

Broken Functionality

You’ll be missing some of the items listed above. If you’ve added/injected any JavaScript into to your Document Library views you’ll likely lose that functionality (at least in its currently deployed fashion). This loss of JavaScript will likely be one of the biggest obstacles faced since JavaScript has become so ubiquitous with SharePoint Online development. How do you even DO development with this new view?

Your documents are still there. Your metadata is still there. No content has been lost. It’s a new way of working within SharePoint Document Libraries. In fact, Microsoft has already written an article on how to use these new Document Libraries.

“What was Microsoft Thinking?”

This was the phrase I heard most often about this change. What on earth could Microsoft be thinking? How could they drop something like this on us without warning? I have to admit my first reaction was to complain. Change is bad. Right? In fact, I DID do some complaining on that Yammer thread. I definitely want to give a big shout out to Lincoln DeMaris at Microsoft. He fielded the questions more gracefully than almost anyone else I’ve seen in his position and it sounds like his team was working pretty hard on fixing any bugs that came up.

So, before I wrote a blog post about how horrible the new experience was or how out of touch with reality Microsoft is, I decided to take a step back and really thing about what’s going on.

It’s First Release Only

Before you panic too much, keep in mind that this functionality is only available to SOME first release tenants. If you didn’t sign up for preview release you won’t see the option for the new look. Your users will not see it. There is no reason to panic!

May the 4th Be with You

Isn’t there some big event happening on May the 4th about SharePoint? In “The Future of SharePoint” event, Microsoft is unveiling their vision and roadmap for SharePoint and OneDrive. Could these changes be related to that? Did Microsoft release these changes before the event to first release customers to make sure it’s stable by May 4th ? Is it possible there is a plan in place? Is there a customization story? In the light of the May 4th event I can understand the thought process to make sure these new Document Libraries were pretty solid from a functional standpoint. This would also explain the lack of communication beforehand? Conspiracy theory maybe? I don’t know for sure, but this May 4thevent is a free online event you can register for. So, go, register. Let’s see how wrong I am. I’ll actually be at the event, so I’ll be live tweeting (@mrackley) and blogging about what I find out. Stay tuned for that!

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

This is first release. Nothing is set in stone. Microsoft is test driving this new functionality. LET THEM KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS! Do you love it? Hate it? Do you have any great ideas to make it better? Don’t just be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Submit your feedback on Yammer or Uservoice and help drive the evolution of SharePoint.

Classic Mode is an option

From reading the Yammer thread it sounds like “Classic Mode” will be around for at least a year. So even when they do push these new document library views out to all the tenants you will have some time to ease into it, fix anything that may be broken, and make sure you apply it when you are ready. Again, don’t panic.

Just MAYBE the sky’s not falling.

What’s the bottom line?

There’s two ways we can look at these changes. We can think that Microsoft is out of touch with how people use SharePoint (which they are sometimes) and are introducing changes that will crush our ability to use and develop in SharePoint, or there is a reason and plan for these changes and we’ll have to wait to find out more. Regardless, the worst thing you can do is be silent. Send them your feedback and thoughts.

I think most people (everyone?) can agree that Microsoft should have handled the communication of these changes better instead of just dropping them in our lap, but before we all throw our hands in the air and threaten to move to Canada (isn’t that what we are supposed to threaten to do now?) let’s take a deep breath and tune in to the May 4th event and hopefully most of our questions and concerns will be addressed and all of these changes will make sense.

Questions? Concerns? Contact the Interlink team anytime.

Matt Scherocman

Top 5 Benefits of Microsoft Azure SQL Database

Top 5 Benefits of Microsoft Azure SQL Database

The question of whether or not to put your business data in the cloud is getting easier and easier these days and a lot of that is thanks to Microsoft’s investment in Microsoft Azure. Their strategy to create an infrastructure, like Microsoft Azure SQL Database, that can manage big data (as big as petabyte-scale) and everything on down from that is working and it’s working well.

The advancements made in SQL Database are making it more and more possible businesses of all sizes to save money and scale up or down efficiently. Below are the top five benefits that companies are realizing with SQL Database as their database service:

1) Scalability and Beyond

First of all, flexible service plans for SQL Database meet the needs of both big and small business users. SQL is no longer way out of reach for smaller operations because the pricing structure allows users to pay as little as $4.99 per database per month with a maximum storage set at 150 GB per database. That’s a lot of space for very little cost.

Microsoft Azure SQL Database

2) High Speed and Minimal Down Time

High availability architectures mean high speed connectivity and data retrieval as well as low down time at your organization. There’s nothing worse than stopping business because your technology can’t keep up, but that is no longer a problem with SQL Database.

Secondly, companies can add application instances as needed through sharding, for example. Sharding is a type of database partitioning that separates very large databases into smaller, faster, more easily managed parts called data shards. Not only can you spin nodes up and down on demand, you can leverage a federation infrastructure to scale more easily without affecting other areas of the server. SQL Azure Federation Data Migration Wizardcan even further automate this process, which impacts your organization and the employees much less.

Lastly, there are multiple levels of implementation that you can benefit from. If you just need a website and a database, you can hitch a SQL Azure instance to an Azure website and you’re done! If you need a full-blownvirtual machine(VM) now or even down the road, you can get that as well. You can even use a locally deployed instance of SQL Server in the VM instead of SQL Azure. These implementation options help make your company more adaptable to the inevitable changes it undergoes on a regular basis. With SQL Azure, you’re not stuck. You’re on a foundation that encourages growth while working with it!

3) Improved Usability

SQL developers are familiar with all things SQL and SQL Database can be updated with SQLCMD or the SQL Server Management Studio. Better yet, there’s no coding required! Using standard SQL, it’s much easier to manage database systems without having to write or update a huge amount of code.

4) Time Is On Your Side

With no administrative duties on your physical location, employees can take time for strategic work to advance and grow all-around business success. When your database is hosted in the cloud, you don’t have to deal with setting up SQL Server, apportioning databases, and dealing with physical machine maintenance and upkeep. All of this results in better alignment of your organization and ultimately more time on your side.

5) Easy-to-Use Migration Tools

Ramp up time with SQL Database is now easier than ever and free! SQL Data Sync allows you to either sync your SQL Server-stored data or migrate the data without having to worry about the costs to migrate by syncing gigabyte-sized tables.

Take into account all that SQL Azure has to offer and contact us at Interlink if you have any questions. 

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